Why does monitoring matter and how do you do it well? We asked PR pros from some of today's top brands to share their thoughts.
In week three of Cision’s Best Practices for Communicators in 2021 webinar series, we spoke with PR pros from Georgia-Pacific, Canopy Growth Corporation and Edelman about why monitoring your brand and managing reputation is essential to the business and how to do so effectively. You can watch Building Your Corporate Cred: Effective Brand Monitoring & Management Techniques on demand, but if you’d prefer the Cliff’s Notes version, we’ve outlined some of the top takeaways right here.
Takeaway #1: Start with trust.
“Trust is at the foundation of any relationship you have with any stakeholder,” says Brandon Parrott-Sheffer, Senior Vice President at Edelman. For this reason, and based on insights from the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, Parrott-Sheffer offers this advice to communicators: “Start your strategy with trust. Infuse data and insights and empathetic learning across every step of your journey, and bring that back into your predictive analytics.” All too often, we’re so concerned with communicating our message we don’t first consider where our audience is.
Bottom line: Consider who you’re trying to target and do the legwork to truly understand your consumer. A one-size-fits-all message won’t move the needle in earning consumer trust. If you take time to learn from your audiences, you can figure out how to reach them through the right channels, at the right time, using the right tone and messaging.
Takeaway #2: If you’re overcommunicating, you’re doing it right.
When the world went on lockdown in March of 2020, followed by a sudden demand for toilet paper, Georgia-Pacific, the world’s leading manufacturer of paper-based products (including toilet paper), was at the forefront of the media storm surrounding the shortage. When Georgia-Pacific’s social media team noticed an almost overnight spike – including 11,000 social media messages directed at their consumer brands and over 2,800 mentions of the GP brand – Eric Abercrombie, Media Relations & External Communications Lead, knew he needed to act quickly to get in front of the story.
As a result of monitoring both the brand and the industry as a whole, Abercrombie and his team were able to pivot quickly and create a communications strategy that would enable them to control the message as much as possible. Along the way, Abercrombie learned a few lessons:
- Communicate more than you normally would in times of crisis to ensure you're reaching all audiences, across multiple channels and with a consistent message.
- Stay focused on your goal, but be able to adapt quickly as circumstances change.
- Break down silos and work with various teams across the company to execute faster and, again, ensure consistent messging both internally and externally.
Takeaway #3: You can’t control the news, but you can control the buzz around it.
Shortly after Jennifer White joined Canopy Growth Corporation, one of the biggest cannabis companies in the world, as Director of Communications two years ago, a bombshell dropped: the company’s CEO was abruptly removed from his role, pulling Canopy growth “into a very public crisis.” Suddenly, White’s goal went from getting coverage for Canopy to trying to “clean up” their brand’s perception and rebuilding trust.
Despite everything that was out of her control, White focused on what they could control. From a measurement standpoint, they started focusing on sentiment. They switched from automated coverage of sentiment, which gave them a good baseline for measurement, to a manual review, which enabled them to properly measure mentions and the sentiment around them, track their message discipline and gauge the efficacy of message penetration. She also set goals of reaching 70 percent neutral/positive coverage during news events.
Among the lessons this experience taught White: Start small and evolve your measurement approach over time. Integrate other departments, as well. For example, overlay earnings media with analyst reports, retail foot traffic and e-comm sales reports, among other data.
Takeaway #4: Monitor and measure what truly matters.
Collecting data on your brand is the easy part – there is no shortage of tools out there that enable you to collect data and build an archive of brand mentions. It’s the second step, media analysis, where we often run into trouble. (After all, as Cam Steed, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Cision, points out, “it’s not hard to build a library of books, it’s hard to build a library of books where you can say you’ve read every one.”) Without effective media analysis, the rest of it – making key decisions, taking action, measuring and learning, adapting – become nearly impossible.
For those who feel overwhelmed by it all, Steed offers the following advice: Monitor and measure what truly matters. It’s fine to use free tools, but paid platforms show the bigger picture. Look beyond your brand or business mentions.
Finally, if internal resources are scarce, there are myriad vendor options out there with the technology and expertise to help you achieve your unique goals.
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